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Yu Minhong: Rags-to-riches education guru

China · Feb 26, 2019· By Wang Zeyu

When the New Oriental founder was working in the rice paddies as a teenager, it never occurred to him that he would become the richest teacher in China one day

In 2008, Yu Minhong, founder and chairman of the US-listed New Oriental Education & Technology Group, was invited to his alma mater and former employer Peking University to deliver the commencement speech. In 1991, he had resigned from the university in disgrace. His return was triumphant.

“Only two animals can reach the top. One is the eagle, who flies to the top by talent, and the other is the snail, who climbs to the top through perseverance. I have always considered myself a snail, slowly climbing but never stopping. It’s the non-stop climbing that makes my life meaningful,” said Yu. His speech was frequently interrupted by roars of laughter and applause.

The child of a peasant farmer, Yu has changed the lives of tens of millions of Chinese students both as a mentor and an educator. A passionate, inspiring and humorous speaker, he enjoys motivating young people to work hard through stories.

But it is his education company, New Oriental, that has had the greatest immediate impact: it has served 38.1 million students to date.

The Group also launched an Education and Culture Fund last year to invest RMB 1.5 billion in edtech startups, with the goal of creating a more promising future for the next generation.

“[New Oriental] is happy to provide assistance, including the experiences and lessons learnt from our development course, personal connections and funding, to young entrepreneurs,” said Yu.

Edited by Wendy Lovinger and Wang Xiao'e

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